How can we create public spaces that have a positive impact on people’s well-being?

Healthy Urbanization Toolbox - Utrecht, NL

*this project was done by our parent company PosadMaxwan before setting up our new spin-off Healthy City Global*

Healthy cities are made up of healthy residents. So how can public space exert a positive influence on the health of the people in a city?


To answer that question, we developed a generic toolbox of spatial design interventions for creating healthy cities. The interventions encourage a salutary lifestyle, helping to prevent physical problems.

They are based on our findings from extensive research conducted with GGD, RIVM, and TNO on the direct relationship between physical well-being, lifestyle, and urban design.


The study yielded a number of design interventions for making cities healthier. They can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Healthy movement through the city.

  2. Public spaces designed for exercise, recreation, socializing and sport.

  3. The synergy between public and private spaces (work, school, health care, amenities).

  4. Healthy basic facilities (drinking water, health care, information, food).

The toolbox has put healthy cities on the national agenda as a priority within urban development. Its principles have been successfully applied in the city of Utrecht around the main rail station on the Jaarbeurs side. The municipality now evaluates all spatial development projects on how much they do to help keep citizens healthy.